New "Dead Ball" era?
So I was just reading that this year MLB pitchers are averaging 7.5 K/9 - the highest rate in MLB history. We just had our 2nd perfect game of the season, and the 4th in 3 years (5 if you count Galarraga's blown call). In that same 3 year period (2010-12) there have now been 14 no-hit games - over 5 per season average. That compares to just a tad over 2 per season average over the entire MLB history.
Does anybody else think that the game is fundamentally changing for some reason, toward the side of more dominant pitching? Or is it just that hitting is on the decline throughout the majors? Yes, I know that the steroid is over and you would expect fewer HRs and a lower average slugging pct, but would that affect hitting across the board - singles as well as HRs?
So what's up? Is this a temporary statistical anomaly what will work itself out over time? Or are we looking at a return to 1968 when the MLB decided steps needed to be taken to restore balance between hitting and pitching?
Just an anecdote, but I believe the strike zone has been bigger this year -- maybe in an attempt to shorter games, but this also means worse offensive production.
Ironic that our pitching has not benefitted from this datum.
Is overall batting average lower now than over MLB history? I think that would be a better indicator than the average amount of no hitters per season. As for the K-rate being higher now, I think that power hitting is at more of a premium, so batters are swinging harder. The harder you swing the harder it is to make contact, so it is a little bit easier now to strike someone out. Plus, I think there is more effort put into finding and developing good pitchers now than in the past, although that might be offset by the effort put into finding and developing good hitting.
I did a quick check at baseball-reference.com, and here are the K/9, batting average, and OBP for the last 7 years:
2012: 7.5 K/9 .253 avg .319 OBP
2011: 7.1 K/9 .255 avg .321 OBP
2010: 7.1 K/9 .257 avg .325 OBP
2009: 7.0 K/9 .262 avg .333 OBP
2008: 6.8 K/9 .264 avg .333 OBP
2007: 6.7 K/9 .268 avg .336 OBP
2006: 6.6 K/9 .269 avg .337 OBP
After that it balances out again for a few years, but clearly there has been a gradual trend toward more pitching and less hitting.
More importantly, has the average runs scored gone up or down
Strikeout rate has been going up consistently over time. I left off data from the 1800 because rules about numbers of strikes and ball varied. There are two drop off point when you look at the data. In 1920, the spit ball was banned. In 1973, the DH was added in the AL. I think the 7.5 K/9 fits the trend. It is not a return to a previous era but simply of the the evolution path towards stronger bodies and arms.
In 1920 baseball responded to Ray Chapman's death by spitball by banning the pitch. As the number of pitchers who can throw over 100 MPH increases will MLB wait for another tragic event or will they take action. What can they do? Move the mound back.
Is there nobody in this forum with access to the data from the whatever-they-call-it strike zone monitor? Looks to me like umpires are calling the plate "wider" which is what they taught me to do when I was an umpire (local, up through varsity HS and Legion). The inside part of the plate, the ball has to touch it, because if you give the pitcher slack on the inside batters have no chance. But on the outside part of the plate, that extra few inches gives the pitchers play and, more importantly, it isn't entirely unfair because hitters can hit that pitch. More than a baseball width wide, however, and it gets out of range pretty fast. But some umps have gotten wider and wider. And the high strike is back - bottom of the ball crosses the plate at the belt, maybe even up to the letters, some umps are giving that.
Hey - hitting is HARD!!!! If the strike zone is expanded an inch up and an inch out, to where it maybe ought to be, take the average height and the width of the home plate and we're talking, what, an extra 4 square feet of coverage hitters are responsible for. Might have to revise Ted's numbers.